Council agrees not to attend French conference after appeal from Liberal Democrat leader
An appeal from the Leader of Oldham Council’s Liberal Democrat Group has finally led the Labour Administration to call time on spending over £10,000 on sending delegates to an annual international property conference in Southern France.
In mid-July, Liberal Democrat Group Leader, Councillor Howard Sykes, MBE, wrote to the new Council Leader and Chief Executive asking them to cease the needless spending which could be better spent on providing front-line services.
In 2018 and 2019, Oldham Council was represented at the three-day Marché International des Professionnels d’Immobilier (MIPIM) property conferences held in the French Riviera resort of Cannes at a time when Council services have been cut to the bone.
In 2018 at least £9,892 was spent to pay for the attendance of the Head of Regeneration and Development and Director of Economy and Skills and in 2019 £10,296 for the attendance of the-then Leader of the Council and the Head of Regeneration and Development.
In 2020, because of COVID-19, the conference was called off, but £1,647 had already been spent on travel tickets and accommodation which had to be written off.
The next MIPIM conference is in September 2021.
Commenting Councillor Sykes stated: “The attendance by councillors and council officers at these conferences is just wrong. It is an unnecessary expense on an unnecessary activity when the council has cut other services to the bone because of a lack of cash, and it is contrary to our stated commitment to become a carbon-neutral Council by 2025. Going to Cannes is not going green and it is a waste of money.”
In the reply received from the Head of the Chief Executive’s Office it was confirmed that ‘Oldham Council will not be attending the MIPIM events later this year’. In response, Councillor Sykes added: “I am glad that common-sense has prevailed and this money would be better spent on making our streets cleaner, fixing potholes on our crumbling roads or providing care for our vulnerable children or elderly citizens than on jet travel and expensive hotel bills for staff swanning off to the French Riviera.”